By Andy Young
After being involved in Australia’s wine industry for nearly 40 years Kathleen Quealy has been named as the first female Wine Communicators of Australia Legend of the Vine.
Quealy started her love of wine working on the bottling line for McWilliams in the late 70s as an after school job. Her parents though, were shocked when Quealy subsequently enrolled at winemaking school in Wagga Wagga.
It was there she met life long mentor and Pinot Gris advocate Max Loader. Loader saw the courage and vision in Quealy, and took her under his wing.
Quealy started as winemaker at Bungawarra in 1984, in addition to vineyard manager and bee keeper and in 1986 she became the first female to win a trophy at the Brisbane Wine Show.
She released the first unwooded chardonnay in the country in 1990 and was dubbed the “Queen of Pinot Grigio” by James Halliday not long after founding T’Gallant on the Mornington Peninsula.
T’Gallant was sold to Treasury Wine Estates in 2003 and Quealy purchased Balnarring Vineyard and started Quealy Winemakers; in 2006 launching with just two wines Pobblebonk (white blend), Rageous (red blend) plus a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris as a passing nod to convention.
She’s been on and off the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association on several occasions, re-joining the committee most recently in 2015 where she is particularly vocal about protecting the region from Phylloxera, promoting (and protecting) Mornington Peninsula Pinot G.
Quealy remains a stalwart supporter of diversity, independence and merit recognition across the industry and will continue to do whatever the bloody hell she thinks is right on any given day.
As a Legend of the Vine, Quealy joins a prestigious list that includes WCA Patron James Halliday, Rob Hirst, Patrick Iland, David Lowe, Phil Laffer, Chris Anstee, Ross Brown, Colin Campbell, Iain Riggs and Bill Hardy. She also becomes a life member of WCA.